Raven receivers could surprise

The one word you are bound to hear the Ravens use often is "potential". Right now, it's a word that accurately describes the makeup of this young team. That is especially true when you talk about the Ravens' current core of wide receivers. Coming into camp this weekend, the Ravens didn't have one wide receiver on the roster that had more than 3 years of NFL experience. However, there is certainly room for this unit to improve.

Most of the burden will have to be picked up by receivers Travis Taylor and Brandon Stokley. This is likely Taylor's make or break year in the NFL. He was the tenth choice in the 2000 draft and has yet to show he was worth that selection. Taylor suffered a broken collarbone, which ended his season in 2000, and he was inconsistent at best in 2001.

This year, Taylor will start at the X position in Billick's west coast offense, and will be looked on as the go to guy for QB Chris Redman. If Taylor is to become the player that the Ravens envision him to be, he'll have to improve in some areas of his game. First, he'll have to improve his concentration. There were times when Taylor made some spectacular catches and times when he dropped some easy ones. Second, Taylor will have to do a much better job of getting open. There were a number of games where he completely disappeared from the offense.

The Ravens will also look for Brandon Stokley to breakout this year. Stokley was the team's fourth round choice in 1999 and he is finally getting the chance to be a full-time starter. Like Taylor, Stokley has shown enough flashes to prove he is talented. However, he hasn't been as consistent as the team had hoped he would be. Stokley shows great concentration at times but like Taylor, he will need to get open on a more consistent basis.

There are also some talented wide receivers playing behind Taylor and Stokley. The Ravens signed Kenyon Hambrick as a free agent from Alabama A&M last year. Hambrick (who is currently playing in NFL Europe) is 6'1, with good downfield speed. He showed the ability to make some tough catches in preseason games last year, and Hambrick is also a capable return man.

Another receiver the Ravens will count on to produce is Ron Johnson. Johnson was the team's fourth round selection from this year's draft. Johnson has the size (6'3, 220pds), hands, and toughness to be the team's best possession receiver for quite some time.

There is also a good chance that the Ravens will try to sign a veteran wide receiver sometime before training camp starts in July. Players like Michael Westbrook, Willie Jackson, and Matthew Hatchette are out on the market right now. There will also be an influx of receivers hitting the market after June 1st. Some of the players that could be released are, Keenan McCardell, Antonio Freeman, Marcus Robinson, Derrick Alexander, and Darnay Scott.

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